How many times have you set a goal but, after a week or a month, given up because it was too big, too far, too hard to reach? We all fall into the trap of becoming complacent with the status quo, but that is not how God thinks. God wants us to set big goals and reach for a higher standard. We can see by His plan for mankind that He has big goals.
He wants us to aim high.
One person who wasn’t afraid to aim high was Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin. His big ambitions contributed to one of the biggest achievements of mankind in the past century: the first moon landing.
One way he accomplished his big goal was big thinking—he thought innovatively and what we call “outside the box.” In his book, No Dream Is Too High, he said: “Past successes can be the greatest obstacle to future innovation. One of the greatest impediments to discovery is the attitude that says, ‘we don’t do things that way’ or ‘we have never done things that way.’ Which basically means, ‘I don’t want to change.’… You have to stay open to possibilities. Your mind is like a parachute: if it isn’t open, it doesn’t work.”
During the early 1960s, nasa was faced with President John F. Kennedy’s challenge of sending man to the moon by the end of that decade. Many doubted the possibility because of the lack of technology and know-how. But the goal was set. America would either publicly succeed or fail.
Buzz Aldrin made this goal his own. From his youth, he had loved flying. He took after his dad and became a fighter pilot in the United States Air Force, serving in the Korean War and was later based in Germany. After his time in Germany, he returned to school at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (mit), where he received his doctorate in astronautics. The first time he applied to be an astronaut, he was denied because nasa only wanted test pilots as astronaut candidates.
But eventually, nasa’s program moved onto the logistics of a moon landing, which involved complicated physics. Buzz concentrated his studies at mit on the space program. His thesis was called “Manned Orbital Rendezvous,” in which he devised a technique for two manned spacecraft to meet in space. He even included the Gemini Project, nasa’s second manned spaceflight program, and dedicated his thesis “… to the crew members of this country’s present and future manned space programs. If only I could join them in their exciting endeavors!”
And he did join them in their exciting endeavors. Nasa accepted him the second time he applied to be an astronaut. He was part of the third group of astronauts—eight men chosen out of over six thousand applicants.
His thesis proved to be crucial to their success in landing on the moon. His rendezvous technique complements nasa engineer John Houbolt’s plan to use two specialized spacecrafts: one to land on the moon while the other, the “mother ship,” remained in orbit. But it was a risky maneuver; if it failed, there would be no way to bring back the astronauts who had landed on the moon. It required precision to the minutest detail, and Aldrin’s work at mit was exactly what was needed.
Initially, nasa considered the idea of two spacecrafts which would separate, land on the moon, then rejoin in space to be a fanciful notion, but they eventually realized that that was the only way to accomplish the goal of sending man to the moon. Aldrin and Houbolt’s innovative approach was key to the success of the Apollo 11 mission. Because of them, America was able to send a man to the moon by the end of that decade.
Aldrin wrote in his book: “One truth I’ve discovered for sure: when you believe that all things are possible and you are willing to work hard to accomplish your goals, you can achieve the next ‘impossible’ dream. No dream is too high … I know the sky is not the limit, because there are footprints on the Moon—and I made some of them! So don’t allow anyone to denigrate or inhibit your lofty aspirations. Your dreams can take you much higher and much farther than anyone ever thought possible! Mine certainly did.”
God has set a goal for us that goes far beyond the moon, or even Mars. God wants to give us “all things” (Hebrews 2:8)—the universe! —and Isaiah 9:7 says it will expand forever! Our human potential is to beautify, inhabit, and expand the universe. We won’t just be making footprints on the moon; we will be making more planets and planting the heavens (Isaiah 51:16). Man was created to create. So we need to be thinking big now.
Buzz Aldrin explained some points in his book on innovation. He said, “People who achieve great breakthroughs in our world have usually already experienced those breakthroughs in their mental processing; they’ve seen the idea working in their mind long before they ever tried it in real life.” In other words, meditation—visualizing the success.
Having a vivid vision requires a distraction-free zone. “Your physical space will be an important component in stifling or fostering your creative juices.” But innovators don’t just deeply think about things and stop there. “Innovators aren’t just dreamers, but also doers! They want to make things happen.”
Have you made God’s goal your own? We must always be looking for ways to improve in our day-to-day lives to reach that grand goal. Prayer and Bible study—where you most develop deep thinking—school and homework, sports or musical endeavors, work—in every aspect of life, we must shoot for a higher standard. Be a doer and always seek to improve. Learn to expand your thinking and aim high. God thinks big, and so must we if we are to inhabit the ever-expanding universe.
“Humanity is destined to explore, settle, and expand outward into the universe,” said Buzz Aldrin. If only he knew how true that is!